Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
Do you often find yourself stuck in front of your closet completely unsure of what to wear? Do you need new clothes, but are not sure what to buy? Are you completely mystified by the difference between “business casual” and “smart casual”? Thankfully, the Internet has resources for those of us who are fashion challenged.
A number of professional fields, schools of thought, and public opinions would have us consider investing time and effort in fashion to be a waste of time or frivolous.
However, this assumption is actually quite far from the truth — and no one explains this better than Meryl Streep in her role as Miranda Priestly in the movie The Devil Wears Prada.
Fashion is more than just dressing in cheap (or not-so-cheap) clothes that are emulating an outfit worn on a runway somewhere in the world.
Fashion, like it or not, plays a huge role in how people are perceived by others, in raising personal confidence, and in showcasing your personal and professional identity.
Whether you personally subscribe to this idea of fashion actually doesn’t matter that much. Fashion is a multi-billion dollar industry, and it has a legitimate influence on the judgments we make about others within the first couple minutes of meeting them.
Thankfully, there are tons of fashion tech resources that are available to help those of us who are stuck in a rut with our current closets, unsure of how to dress for a new role in our lives, or completely unaware of anything to do with fashion.
How to Know What’s in Style
The biggest part of learning about fashion is knowing what’s in style in any given year or season.
This isn’t to say that you need to be aware of every single trend — if you aren’t heavily into popular fashion then you may quite happily go through your entire life without tight skinny jeans or a peplum top– but it is important to see what changes happen to pieces of clothing commonly used in classic looks like white shirts, jeans, and suit jackets.
Use these resources as a springboard for following current trends; whether you read every page, or just flip through a few images, you’ll end up with a much better idea of what fit of pants or width of tie is currently “in”.
Online Fashion Magazines
There’s really no better place to start learning about fashion than from fashion magazines. Wikipedia has a great list of fashion magazines, and each entry has a hyperlink to the magazine’s website.
These online fashion magazines are chock-full of articles that can help you interpret runway styles, find copycat styles on a budget, or find fashion writers that you would like to follow online.
Other online publications like Lyst.com can also be incredibly useful when it comes to being fashion aware. Browsing the lists curated by Lyst users (searchable by item of clothing, purpose, and price ) can give you great insight into the kinds of clothes and accessories that you should be using in any situation.
If you’re unfamiliar with the fashion world, then many of the articles you read may be a little overwhelming at times. FAD is an iOS app that considers itself to be the “ultimate fashion dictionary”, and is an incredible resource when you’re reading a fashion article and can’t remember why chambray is different than cashmere.
FAD’s 1500+ entries dealing with jargon, retail, labels, and more are available offline so you will always have a fashion cheat sheet on hand. The dictionary is also available on their website.
Download: FAD for iOS ($3.99)
There is an entire niche of blogging dedicated to nothing but fashion.
Trying to navigate the huge number of popular fashion blogs for men and women can be overwhelming, so it’s important to start small. Find a single blogger whose style you like (maybe through one of the online fashion magazines you’ve read, through Pinterest or through a Google search) and follow the images they post.
After you’ve found one blogger who styles clothes in a way you appreciate for the environments that you often find yourself in, it’s easy to find other similar blogs through links that the first blogger will post. Be sure to save, bookmark, or pin outfits that you particularly like so that you can refer back to them later!
How to Find Your Personal Style
“Finding your personal style” is one of those magazine headlines that manages to sound both incredibly vague and more than a little terrifying. Thankfully, there is a wealth of apps and websites available to help de-mystify this process and to make it more fun than stressful.
Thread is a website that is currently only available for men in the UK (but with plans to expand to both women and other locations in the near future).
After signing up for Thread you are guided through several sets of questions about your fashion preferences and your preferred price points before the web app asks you to select your preferred outfits for a variety of situations.
A short time after you complete the questionnaire you will be emailed a link to a set of outfit ideas that mesh well with your preferred style. Links are available should you decide to purchase any of the items.
The multi-purpose shopping app Wanelo is also an amazing resource for helping you to figure out what your style is, without you even realizing that that is what you are doing.
When you download Wanelo you are presented with a Tinder-style swiping interface that presents you with one object or item of clothing at a time. You can either “Swipe Left” if you dislike it, or “Swipe Right” if you think it’s a style you like.
Not only does Wanelo use this information to let you purchase these items (if you so desire), it also curates entire feeds of objects and clothing targeted at your likes and dislikes based on calculations made from your swiping.
Share Some Style
If you think that you need more guidance than a computer algorithm can give you, there are websites like ShareSomeStyle.com that exist to connect you with human fashion consultants — but their time will be a significant investment.
For between $75 and $100 per hour, you will be connected with a fashion consultant in your zip code. They will work with you either in-person or by video chat to discuss your likes and dislikes, perform an audit of your closet, and then (if you would like) to shop with you for new clothes that fit your style either in-person or online.
How to Mimic Other People’s Styles
It’s important to know your personal style, but it’s more than all right to have your style be influenced by the people around you! It’s easy to keep track of your friends’ and family’s style through conversation or through the use of social media shopping websites, but if you’re inspired by people you don’t know in real life these apps can be a ton of help.
Have you ever been watching a movie or television show and been distracted by how much you like a specific outfit? Is there a character whose fashion sense you aspire to?
Spylight is an app that identifies the clothes characters wear on television shows and movies and links you directly to either the exact item of clothing or similar products. You can search Spylight’s database of clothing items by character or show, and can even set it up to coordinate with the episode you are currently watching so that you can catch the information about outfits as they appear in the show.
Download: Spylight for iOS (Free) [No longer available]
It would be wonderful if all clothes fit every single body perfectly, but unfortunately that just isn’t the case! Fitbay is one of the best apps around for helping you to understand what kinds of clothes will work best on your body type.
Fitbay takes basic information about you (such as your gender, age, height, body proportions, and weight) and searches its database for other users who can act as your body doubles to help you find the perfect outfit.
You can follow the users Fitbay suggests or search for other users to follow that may be a better fit for your fashion sense. This app is one of the best sources available for helping you to know whether or not a certain style of clothing will look good on someone your age and body type.
Download: Fitbay for iOS (Free) [No longer available]
Once you’ve identified a wardrobe staple that you really want to have in your closet, actually finding the ideal pair of jeans or perfect bag can be more of a struggle than you might think! Enter ‘The Hunt’, a community of fashion-minded individuals who help each other search for and locate an exact item of clothing, pair of shoes, or accessory.
Start your hunt (you can hunt either for an exact item of clothing or for a similar item) and use hashtags to help people find it, then help others locate items while you wait for someone else to find yours!
Download: The Hunt for iOS (Free); The Hunt for Android (Free) [No longer available]
How to Work with What You’ve Got
Fashion really isn’t about buying an entirely new wardrobe or spending hundreds of dollars on clothes you’re not sure that you’ll wear. If your closet already has a pretty solid base of wardrobe essentials, all you really need is some help and inspiration to work with the clothes and accessories you already own.
Closet+ is an app that creates a virtual closet for you, allowing you to try different combinations of clothes already in your closet without trying them on or digging through your drawers.
Simply take a photo of each item of clothing you own, enter some basic information about it, and then begin sifting through potential outfits with ease!
You are able to track all kinds of stats using this app, including how much each item of clothing cost, which days you wore each outfit, and how often you’ve worn an item of clothing. As well, the app tracks your favorite outfits, has a “packing list” feature to help you plan for your next vacation, and lets you share your outfits with friends.
Feeling Fashionable Yet?
If you’re still not sure that you’ve got fashion figured out, there are also some amazing online fashion communities that you should consider taking a look at — especially fashion subreddits like /r/malefashionadvice and /r/femalefashionadvice. These are great places to learn about fashion from real people by asking questions and listening in on conversations. Over to you for your own fashion tips.
Have you used fashion tech before? What are your best fashion resources? Tell us all your makeover stories!